The true, sincere and dedicated followers of Swaminarayan Sampraday as organized and visualized by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan firmly believe that the Acharya is the only head of the Sampraday, as authorized by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan Himself. For the sake of management of the ever expanding Sampraday Lord Swaminarayan Himself divided area of management into Northern Division and Southern Division, called Nar-Narayan Dev Gadi and Lakshmi-Narayan Dev Gadi, as these two main temples of Shree Nar-Narayan Dev and Shree Lakshmi-Narayan Dev are situated at that location respectively.
While managing the ever increasing number of temples, one has to deal with property, both movable as well as immovable, appointments, dismissals etc. Lord Swaminarayan wanted to keep His saints free from worldly affairs so that they can devote all their time to religious and spiritual practices and teaching and propagating the same. This was unique arrangement to keep the saints free from the temptation of worldly affairs.
The highly adorable planning has kept away the followers from hero-worship of the Acharya as is done elsewhere and has kept the followers firmly dedicated to Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan. Specific rules are framed for the succession of the Acharya, so that management remains with the worthy, respectable and adorable Acharya. Power rests with the followers to dismiss the Acharya who may violate the rules and regulations framed by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, on some rare occasions.
Constitutionally the Sampraday has made sufficient arrangement for the comfortable living of Acharya. The first two Acharyas for the Sampraday were chosen from the holy relatives of Lord Swaminarayan, with the unanimous consent of all the followers. (Shikshapatri Sloka No. 3) Family traditions being the most important for the management of religious, spiritual and worldly affairs, the rule of succession is strictly followed. The Acharyas, though householders have to lead a highly disciplined self-controlled life to maintain the prestige of their supreme position. They have to be great scholars with excellent manners, methods and etiquette.
The Acharya Hierarchy is as follows :
- Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj
- Shree Bhagvatprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Viharilalji Maharaj
- Shree Lakshmiprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Shripatiprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Aanandprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Narendraprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Ajendraprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Rakeshprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Ayodhyaprasadji Majaraj
- Shree Keshavprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Purushottamprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Vasudevprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Devendraprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Tejendraprasadji Maharaj
- Shree Koshlendraprasadji Maharaj